Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1949: The Diamond of DeathReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Date: December 17, 1949
"The Diamond of Death"
The Fairmount family estate of Great Oaks lies situated on a hilltop in the exclusive Wellington section of Metropolis. Only the three surviving members of the clan - Aunt Margaret Richards, her son John and her niece Alice Fairmount, whose father founded the now dwindling Fairmount fortune, resides in the twenty-seven room mansion. A scream from Margaret startles Alice and John. A burglar was seen leaving the library, where a diamond pendant is locked in a safe. The stone was found by Alice's father in Africa, and Alice herself will receive it on her twenty-first birthday tomorrow. The prowler was frightened off. However, Daily Planet reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane, who are interviewing Alice, saw someone as they arrived at Great Oaks. Unfortunately, it was the dark haired chauffeur Mario Corelli, whom Clark thinks he's seen before. The man Margaret saw was tall and blonde.
Lois and Clark are now at police headquarters. The latter has found the mug shot of Martin Cordet, who, under various aliases, has been arrested for jewel smuggling all over the world. Cordet is currently using the name Mario Corelli and has worked for the Fairmount family for the past three months. Clark warns Mrs. Richards by telephone before he arrives at Great Oaks to question Mario. The chauffeur, much to everyone's surprise, will unfortunately be unable to talk to anyone. Someone has just shot him right between the eyes.
Alice Fairmount has been interrogated by Clark. It has been discovered that the young woman was infatuated with Mario. She is quite defensive, but she later understands that a murder mystery must be solved. Alice has just invited Lois and Clark to tomorrow's masquerade birthday party, where Clark will wear an interesting costume in order to solve the case.
It is now the next night at Great Oaks. Soon, Mrs. Richards will present Alice with the Fairmount Diamond. Suddenly, the lights go out, and the pendant is missing. Clark, in a Superman suit, is still looking for the jewelry even after the police had given up hours ago. Kell tells Captain Ed Reed by telephone that he believes the precious heirloom was stolen by Margaret Richards last night. Lois and Alice wish to know what he means. Miss Lane then confronts Aunt Margaret only to find that John is also in of the robbery. Now, John is about to shoot Alice and Lois when Superman interrupts him. John and his mother had earlier replaced the real diamond with a copy in order to create an elaborate scheme of which Martin Cordet had taken part. John had killed Cordet to prevent him from talking. With Margaret and John Richards on their way to prison, Lois is left with one question. Who had saved her and Alice Fairmount, Clark in his Superman suit from the costume party or the real Man of Steel?
The title lead me to me to believe that this would be an abridged version of "The Secret of Meteor Island," and, while I am curious about how a thirty minute version of that serial would be, I'm glad to see that this was an original story that had the mystery of The Shadow and the action of The Green Hornet. Now, those of you (all two of you) who have been reading these reviews of The Adventures of Superman radio program probably noticed that I tend to compare it to both The Shadow and The Green Hornet. Those just happen to be two of my favorite shows.
In addition to being influenced by the Man of Steel's adventures, the writers for "The Diamond of Death" seem to be paying tribute to the murder mysteries of such authors as Agatha Christie. One cannot help but feel like Miss Marple was going to walk into the room and aid Superman in solving the crime. This helps make the episode more entertaining and magical.
One thing I really loved in "The Diamond of Death" was its conclusion. Lois Lane wasn't sure if it was Clark Kent or Superman that saved her. She may have also been suspicious of Kent's double life like she has been many times in the past. The secret identity of Superman remained a mystery to Lois until 1991's Action Comics #662. When she was still wondering and often getting into trouble trying to learn about the Man of Tomorrow's other self, that provided some great moments between Lois, Clark and Superman, and scenes like this episode's ending provide just of many amazing scenes where the star reporter had wondered if her colleague was really a strange visitor from another planet.
Margaret and John Richards are the classic greedy relatives that you'll see everywhere from EC Comics stories to Boris Karloff's Thriller. They go to great lengths to get the Fairmount Diamond. They even frame a known jewel thief to throw investigators off their trail. Both aunt and cousin really provide "The Diamond of Death" with antagonists that work well into the episode without making them seem exaggerated.
I truly enjoyed every moment of "The Diamond of Death," and I honestly feel like the actors, writers and producers have finally gotten comfortable with the half hour format with it and many of the previous episodes. Let's hope that "Mystery of the Little Men" continues this pattern when we get to it in seven days or so. See you all next week, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Now, go read the other stupendous articles and reviews on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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